For two months now, the internet has been gripped with news that Tom Sandoval, Bravo TV personality and Vanderpump Rules veteran cast mate, cheated on his long time girlfriend Ariana Madix… with her best friend and fellow cast mate Raquel.
In brief description: the couple got together early on in the show’s history, on the heels of Tom Sandoval’s break up with another cast mate. Tom and Ariana were friends with James and Raquel, a couple themselves just last year. Tom funded an extravagant engagement event for James to propose. But, Raquel broke the engagement off sometime thereafter. Newly single, Raquel created casual flirtationships with a number of the other cast mates, including Tom Schwartz – Tom Sandoval’s best friend going through his divorce from another cast mate. Raquel’s blitz through the cast as she found herself was cause for many fights on Vanderpump Rules – to which cameras caught Tom Sandoval defend his ‘friend’ and her insensitive actions. Then, quickly, amidst Ariana’s grandmother and dog passing – Tom Sandoval and Raquel began to have a secret affair; all while camera’s rolled. The show captured scenes of Raquel expressing her crush on Tom Schwartz and her Raquel comforting Ariana through the tough spots of her relationships, including their future plans to freeze embryos to have children together.
Until the secrets came tumbling down. The remainder of the 10th season of the record breaking reality TV show has been a strategic unfurling of the news of the scandal aptly titled “Scandoval.”
May 15, 2023 was the season finale, highlighting Tom Sandoval’s “apology” -if you could call it that- tour and Ariana’s righteous rage. Immediately following the episode’s end, Ariana sat for an interview and admitted: THEY STILL LIVE TOGETHER.
No, they aren’t still “together” – she made that very clear when she declared, “I regret ever loving you.” But, the couple was a bedrock of the show for nine years. In their near decade together, they: wrote a book, bought a house, adopted pets, opened a bar and started a sandwich shop, they’d even began the stages to undergo fertility treatment. They weren’t married though… but nine years of building a life together amassed significant, complex, and emotional entanglements – that somehow need to be unraveled.
And because of the legally complex nature in the joint ownership in a luxury home in the Valley, it somehow makes sense that Tom and Ariana would remain under the same roof among other things.
Presumptively, the beautiful home the long-term couple curated together is titled jointly in their names with a mortgage they are both named responsible for. From the last two seasons of Vanderpump Rules, fan’s know that Tom Sandoval has scraped into the shallow pool of his assets to fund some of his mid-life crisis ambitions: a retro psychedelic bar with no menu named “Schwartz and Sandy’s” and his funky rock tribute band still touring despite the scorn.
It is unlikely the couple had a cohabitation agreement contractually binding them to terms, such as immediately selling the house, in case of a break up. Though, in her late night interview, Ariana announced that is exactly what she wanted.. Ideally, Tom Sandoval wants that too- though it likely would his portion of the equity may be significantly lower given his expensive hobbies. Hopefully the process is easy for Ariana’s sake, but given the entangled nature of their assets and their unmarried status – the break up isn’t actually easier than a divorce.
If something can be learned about monogamy and long-term relationships from reality TV shows like Vanderpump rules, it is this: just because a couple isn’t married and needs to divorce as part of the break up, doesn’t mean it’ll be any easier.
Life is hard enough. Let’s try not to make it even more complicated.